Prehabilitation offers opportunity to improve cancer outcomes, costs

Prehabilitation offers a "window of opportunity" to improve cancer patient outcomes, prevent readmissions and reduce direct and indirect healthcare costs, according to a study in this month's American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.

In the continuum care, prehabilation occurs between cancer diagnosis and the beginning of acute treatment and uses physical and psychological assessments to establish baseline levels of a patient's health, according to the study.

"There is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports preparing newly diagnosed patients for and optimizing their health before starting acute treatments," wrote Julie K. Silver, M.D., and Jennifer Baima, M.D., both of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School in Boston, in the study.

Oncology Nurse Advisor points out prehabilitation is not a new concept or exclusively used for cancer patients, but more evidence shows it is appropriate for the cancer population. One study conducted in the research demonstrated that a two-week prehabilitation program comprised of inspiratory spirometry, breathing and coughing exercises with bronchodilator nebulizers, and exercise shortened length of stay by 28 percent in a group of patients with lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The study authors conclude cancer prehabilitation interventions can "decrease morbidity, hospital readmissions, and direct and indirect cancer-related health care costs while increasing the number of potential treatment options and improving physical and psychological health outcomes for patients."

To learn more:
- see the study
- see the article in Oncology Nurse Advisor

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